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The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife Hardcover – April 5, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The New York Times, April 30, 2011
Calls The Big Shift “an imaginative work with the potential to affect our individual lives and our collective future.”

The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2011
Says its an “invaluable and inspiring read.”

USA Today, April 25, 2011
Hails Freedman as “a natural storyteller, a deep researcher and a forward thinker.&rdquo

About the Author

Marc Freedman is founder and CEO of Civic Ventures. An award-winning social entrepreneur, frequent commentator in the national media, and the author of Encore, Prime Time, and The Kindness of Strangers, Freedman spearheaded the creation of Experience Corps and The Purpose Prize. He lives in San Francisco with his family.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158648785X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586487850
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #583,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My lawyer wife, preparing to retire fairly young from a successful career in government service, was casting about for ideas on what to do next. Based on a review of Marc Freedman's _The Big Shift_ that I read in the WSJ, I hopped on Amazon, read the glowing reviews, and bought it for her, figuring it would contain some helpful guidance to direct her toward new activities that would make her retirement interesting and meaningful.

My wife was excited when I told her about the reviews and promptly started to read _The Big Shift_ when it arrived. As she got a few chapters in, I noticed that she was sort of grimacing as she read. I asked about it and she said, "This just isn't useful at all. It's as if the author simply interviewed a bunch of people, read a bunch of articles, categorized it all into chapters, and then printed it out as a book. " After a while, she put it down and said, "Thanks, sweetie, but this is just not worth my time."

That was a couple of weeks ago. I just picked the book up and read it through, and I have to agree with her assessment. Perhaps _The Big Shift_ would be useful for some people, but I just don't see any of Freedman's ideas as particularly visionary: Wow, many people start fulfilling second careers in midlife. Having heard the "terza edad" concept in Latin America and Europe since I was a teen in the early '80s, I'm not that blown-away to see that someone's finally translated it into English. Other than rehashing that, there is nothing here but smug, uninspiring and banal anecdotes (neverending, all along the lines of "I was an overworked executive who gave it all up, hit bottom, and found joy teaching benighted minority youth").
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Format: Hardcover
I was so impressed with Marc's last book, Encore, that I left my work as a journalist to help build the movement for encore careers - work in the second half of life with social impact. His latest book takes the encore phenomenon a step further, by reframing the conversation around our "aging society" as one about defining a new life stage whose outlines are first being sketched. The Big Shift will get you thinking about the encore years as it relates to you, your family members, and society writ large. And as Marc tells the story of muddling through his own encore transition, you'll also enjoy more than a few laughs.
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Format: Hardcover
"Are we being good ancestors?" --Jonas Salk, quoted in The Big Shift

In The Big Shift author Marc Freedman answers questions that concern all of us who want to age well. How do we become "elders" -- that is, wisdom bearers -- rather than regress into a second childhood? How do we avoid being an economic drain on society, without competing with the young for jobs? How do we stay involved in our communities and leave a positive imprint on the world, even as we face being marginalized because of age-ism?

In answering these questions, Freedman argues that accepted ideas about aging no longer hold true. People are living longer, having families later in life, and facing more financial uncertainty. The era of necessarily retiring in one's sixties to a life of golf and bridge is over. And according Freedman, that's a good thing, because many people come into their highest creative energy and deepest intelligence during their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Freedman calls these years the Encore Stage - the phase that opens up between the middle years and late life, and he believes society has much to gain by harnessing the talent, wisdom, and experience of people who have lived long and learned.

Based on interviews with older people who have re-made their lives to better fit their interests and values, Freedman offers us examples of people who are "engaged in work that moves them beyond narrow personal concerns to concern for others." These are people committed to "giving back" and "giving forward" to their communities. His re-telling of their stories inspires and teaches, and as I read them I realized that many of my assumptions about aging were false.
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Format: Hardcover
When I told a friend recently that Marc Freedman had written a new book, "The Big Shift," that identifies a new distinct life stage after midlife, her response was "How does someone create a new life stage?"

A good question! Marc's book provides valuable insight on how this happens. The short answer is - it isn't easy to do and it does take a long time. Marc notes that it is a "long distance quest - big projects requiring vision, language, leadership, institutions and often social movements with multiple thinkers..."

We are fortunate that visionaries such as Marc are taking the lead to define this post midlife stage. There are a lot of us at this stage who are eager to be part of this change. In the Boston area, Discovering What's Next ([...]) is one community group that has taken Marc's messages to heart. A great way for everyone to begin is to read this book and start having community conversations about it.
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